Free Counseling for Medicare Recipients


Free health insurance programs are being offered in Fort Wayne to provide counseling for recipients of Medicare. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is an impartial counseling program provided by the Indiana Department of Insurance. The staff of volunteer counselors have received intensive training to offer objective assistance to its attendees. The program will help Medicare recipients compare their present plan with those for 2017 to ensure they have a plan that will work for them and help them make informed decisions. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, visit the Fort Wayne SHIP website or call 260-373-7952.


How to Care for Your Pet After You Die


Although you cannot leave money directly to your pet in your Will, there are other options to make sure that your pet is taken care of after you die. You can leave your pet to someone in your Will or Trust. Choosing a new owner for your pet is one of the most important provisions you can make for your pet. Legally, your pet is considered as property so you can leave your pet to anyone you want in your Will or Trust. It would be a good idea, though, to speak with the new owner first and let them know your wishes regarding your pet. You want to make sure that they are willing and able to take care of your pet. Because circumstances change, you may want to name an alternate beneficiary for your pet.

It is a big responsibility to care for a pet so you may want to leave the new owner some money to go toward the costs of caring for your pet. While leaving the money and your pet to a new owner is legally enforceable, you cannot stipulate that they use the money toward the care of your pet. You can make the gift in your Will conditional, but this is generally impractical and difficult to enforce. You could say that the new owner will receive the money as long as he/she continues to provide proper care for your pet until its death. The executor of your estate has the responsibility to enforce the terms of your Will as long as the estate is open with the probate court. Usually, it takes about six months to a year for the probate to get wrapped up. Because it is difficult to enforce this, you want to make sure that you leave your pet to someone you trust to take good care of it.

Keeping your estate plan up to date is very important when caring for your pets. If your pet dies before you, the money you intended for your pet’s care may still go to the beneficiary. To prevent this from happening, you can make the clause conditional so that the money is only given if your pet is still alive. If you don’t make any plans for your pet, then your pet will go to the residuary beneficiary named in your Will. Without a Will, your pet will go to your closest relative, according to the laws of intestacy.

Why You Can’t Leave Money to Your Pet


Many people view their pets as their family members. It’s only natural, then, that they would want their pets cared for after they die. Some people try to leave money or property to their pet. However, the law views pets as property, not people. Property cannot own another piece of property, only people can. Because a pet cannot own property, it cannot be named as a beneficiary in your Will. If you do name your pet as a beneficiary, the property you tried to leave it will probably go to the alternate beneficiary. If there is no alternate named, then the property will go to the residuary beneficiary (the person named to receive everything left over from your estate). If there is no residuary beneficiary named, then the property will probably be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.

In all likelihood, your pet will not receive anything and the result will not be what you intended. However, there are legally valid ways to make sure that your pet receives proper care after you die. For example, you can leave your pet to someone in your Will that you trust will take care of it. Also, you can set up a trust with money to care for your pet. Our next post will discuss how you can care for your pet after you die.

How Much Does Long-Term Care for Aging Parents Cost?


Caring for your parents is an emotional and stressful time. In addition to these anxieties, there are huge financial obligations that accompany caring for your aging parents.

Nursing Homes. Around the clock care in a nursing home is very expensive. Costs for nursing home care will vary widely depending on your location and the quality of the facility. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the average cost per day is $229 (or $6,965 per month).

Assisted Living Facilities. Some aging parents might not require 24/7 care. They may be able to live somewhat independently with assistance for meals and medication. In an assisted living facility, staff will regularly check on your parents but allow them to maintain their typical daily routines. Average costs for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility are $3,293 per month.

Home Health Aide. If your parents want to (and are able to) stay in their current home for as long as possible, then they may benefit from a home health aide. The aides usually work in shifts of two to four hours. You can schedule visits as often or as little as you want. The average cost for a home health aide is $21 per hour. The price is generally higher on weekends and holidays.

Adult Day Services. If you provide most of the long-term care for your aging parents, then you may want to consider adult day services. These services will help monitor your parents while you are away at work. Typical costs for an adult day health care center average $67 per day.

Medicare Premiums. If your parents are enrolled in Medicare, you may be paying more than $3,000 a year in premiums.  However, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates the average cost of a hospital stay is $2,000 per day, so you will quickly meet your deductible if your parent must go to the hospital.

Supplemental Insurance. Because Medicare does not cover everything, many people supplement their coverage with private health insurance. Monthly health insurance premiums can range from $161-213, depending on where you live and how much coverage you have. Private, full-coverage health insurance can cost as much as $10,000-17,000 a year in premiums.

Prescription Costs. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists reports that a senior between the ages of 64 and 69 takes an average of 14 prescriptions per year while a senior 80 to 84 takes 18 prescriptions per year. The cost for prescriptions will vary widely depending on your parents’ conditions. With so many prescriptions, though, the costs can add up fast. In addition, many seniors require over-the-counter medication, glasses, hearing aids, walkers, adult diapers, and other medical supplies.

Non-Medical Expenses. There may be non-medical expenses involved with your parents’ long-term care. For example, there may be moving expenses if you parents needs to live closer to you or you to them. If you decide to have your parent live with you, then there may be home modification costs involved to make your home more accessible. Also, you may miss work because you are caring for your parents.

Obviously there are numerous costs and factors to consider when caring for your aging parents. However, there is financial assistance available through programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran’s Affairs, and long-term care insurance. One of our attorneys would be happy to help you with asset reallocation and long-term planning so your parents can be well cared for as long as they need.

Planned Giving Council of Northeast Indiana


The Planned Giving Council of Northeast Indiana (PGCNI) is a non-profit organization created in 1995. The goal of the PGCNI is to bring charitable gift planning professionals together to promote planned giving, promote education and professional expertise of council members, and encourage networking and support among its members.  With these goals, the PGCNI members are better able to serve their clients and charitable institutions they support. Members comprise of a various fundraisers, attorneys, accountants, financial and estate planners, trust administrators, and investment and insurance specialists. Our own Leah Good is on the board as co-chair of the program committee. As such, she helps develop the program of topics and speakers for the luncheon meetings.

Janitor Leaves Most of His $8 Million Fortune to Library and Hospital


A janitor and gas station attendant named Ronald Read died recently at age 92. Ronald’s life shows that you can become a multi-millionaire without a massive paycheck. Ronald came from humble beginnings. He was the first in his family to graduate high school. He served in North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific theater during World War 1. After the war, he came home and married a woman with two children. He began working as a gas station attendant and janitor at JCPenney. Ronald was a very frugal man and never spent money unless he had to. He was an excellent stock picker as well and owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death. Unbeknownst to his family, Ronald had amassed an $8 million fortune. His generous spirit moved him to donate $1.2 million to the Brooks Memorial Library in Vermont. He also bequeathed $4.8 million to the local hospital where he regularly ate breakfast.

These generous donations were made possible because he made specific bequests in his Will. When you have a Will, you can make specific gifts to any person or organization that you would like. Without a Will, your property and assets are distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy. Our attorneys can help you plan your estate so you can leave a legacy for your family and hometown, just as Ronald did.

New Law for Estate Tax Returns


On March 23, the IRS issued a new law regarding estate tax returns. The value of the property a person inherits from a decedent must be consistent with the value of the property as finally determined for Federal estate tax purposes. The law also created a new section about documents required. The executor of an estate (who is required to file an estate tax return) must provide certain statements to the IRS and to beneficiaries of the estate. This also applies to 6018(b) filers. Per the new law, the reports made by the estate and by the beneficiaries must be consistent.

Gene Wilder Dies Due to Alzheimer’s


On August 29, Gene Wilder died from complications due to Alzheimer’s. Well known for his role as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wilder appeared in nearly 30 films and several stand-up comedy routines. Many who suffer from Alzheimer’s lose their ability to recognize loved ones and can have dramatic changes in their personality. Fortunately, Wilder did not suffer any of these symptoms. He remained the gentle and affable man his family and friends knew. He will be dearly missed by all.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death and one in three seniors die from Alzheimer’s. It is the only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be slowed, prevented, or cured. The Alzheimer’s Association endeavors to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. One way it works to accomplish this is through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. In Fort Wayne, this event will be happening Saturday, October 8 at Parkview Field. There is no registration fee but fundraising is encouraged to contribute to the cause and raise awareness. Join our fundraising team to support Alzheimer’s. The Walk will be held at Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802 on Saturday, October 8, 2016. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. and the ceremony and Walk begin at 11:45 a.m. If you can’t make it to the Walk, you can donate to our team in support of Alzheimer’s. Thank you for your support to end Alzheimer’s.

Burial and Cremation Laws in Indiana


Each state has laws regarding what happens to a person after death, such as embalming, burial, cremation, and scattering ashes. This post discusses Indiana’s laws on post-death arrangements. First, you may want to obtain a death certificate for the decedent. The funeral director must file the death certificate with the local health officer in the jurisdiction where the death occurred. Indiana has an electronic death registry to help speed up this process. You can ask the person or organization that files the certificate to order them for you at the time of death. If some time has passed after the death, you can contact the health department in the county where the death occurred or you can go to their website. From there, you can download a mail-in order form or order the death certificate online. You can obtain a death certificate if you can show that you have a direct interest in the death record and that the certificate is necessary for you to have. The first certified copy is $8 and additional copies are $4 each.

Then, you may want to consider arrangements for the decedent’s body. In Indiana, there are no laws requiring embalming or a casket for burial. Some cemeteries may have rules regarding the type of container, though. There are also no laws requiring a casket for cremation. Federal law requires that a funeral home or crematory inform you that you can use an alternative container and to make such containers available to you. If you decide to use a casket, you do not have to buy it from the funeral home. Federal law requires that funeral homes accept caskets that individuals have purchased from another source or that are handmade. Bodies must be buried in established cemeteries. If you want to bury a body on private land outside of city limits, you may be able to establish a family cemetery. Check with your county or town clerk to see if this is possible.

If you choose cremation, you can keep the cremated remains or dispose of them in a number of ways. Some ways include:

  • Scattering ashes in an established scattering garden (like at a cemetery).
  • Scattering ashes on private land. You can scatter ashes on your own land, or must get permission from the landowner if it’s not your land.
  • Scattering ashes on public land. Check the city and county regulations and zoning rules before scattering.
  • Scattering ashes on federal land. You should request permission before doing so. Some national parks have guidelines for scattering ashes on their websites.
  • Scattering ashes at sea. Remains must be scattered at least three nautical miles from land. You cannot scatter ashes at beaches or in wading pools by the sea. You must notify the EPA within 30 days of scattering ashes.
  • Scattering ashes in inland waters such as rivers or lakes. You might be legally required to obtain a permit from the state agency that manages the waterway.
  • Scattering ashes by air.

A form documenting the disposition of ashes should be filed with the county recorder within ten days of placement or scattering.

How to Write an Obituary


When someone you love dies, writing the obituary may be your last thought. It can be an overwhelming task. How do you capture an entire person’s life in a few short paragraphs? Here are a few tips to help you:

1. Where to Publish

It is a good idea to decide where you will publish the obituary first before writing the obituary. Some publications may limit the number of words you can use or might require a particular format. Obituaries are often published in newspapers of the city where the person lived, died, or would be known by the community. You may also publish obituaries in the newspapers where the person went to school, worked, or volunteered. Often times, newspapers, or the funeral home you’re working with, will publish an online obituary on You can also create a memorial page on that website that gives you unlimited words and pictures. Online obituaries can reach many more people and gives readers the option to leave comments for the family.

2. Gather Basic Information

Most obituaries include the deceased person’s name, age, city of residence, date of death, city of death, date of birth, and city of birth. Many also give details about surviving family members, predeceased family members, education, employment, military service, community memberships, church memberships, awards, interests, and hobbies. It would be important that you include any plans for a memorial or funeral service. Sometimes, you will have the date and location of the service, whether flowers should be sent, or where donations can be given. Besides the factual information, you may want to add personal information about things that were important to him/her, quotes he/she liked, or anecdotes revealing his/her personality.

3. Write the Obituary

Find out if the publication has any required formats or word limits. You may have to pay extra for longer obituaries or pictures. Looking at some of the current obituaries can give you some ideas. Then, find a quiet time to sit and write the obituary for your loved one. When you’re done, give the obituary to a trusted friend or relative to look it over. Make sure several people look at the obituary to make sure it includes all the desired information.

4. Select Photos

If the publication allows you to include photos, decide which one(s) you want to include. Many obituary photos are a clear, recent head shot. Sometimes, though, people will use a younger photo of the individual. Ultimately, you want to choose a photo that you think most people would recognize.